Mechanical.

Our condo for this trip is in The Paddock at Disney’s Saratoga Springs Spa and Resort. The Paddock was built in the mid 2000s and is up for refurbishment over the next year or so. Because of the impending improvements, this will probably be our last opportunity to use one of these:

We enjoy having a washer and dryer available in the condo because we pack half the clothes we need and do laundry every night. We go home with clean clothes. This reduces the stress of going home after vacation.

The original-to-the-condo washer and dryers are marked as a “Quality GE Product”. The washer is a traditional washer that fills up with water, with an agitator up the middle. It fills, washes, spins, fills, rinses, spins and calls it a day. This design washed clothes for decades but has given way to more efficient designs. Newer washers spritz some water on the clothes, thump them around while making cricket noises, spin, spritz, and spin again. The new design is suppose to be eco-friendly but I never feel like our clothes are clean with these energy efficient washers.

One of the things I love about this old school washer and dryer is that it has mechanical controls. Push the knob in, click click click to your cycle choice and pull the knob to start. We did it thousands upon thousands of times when I was growing up. Pulling that knob and having the water start was always so cool. Pressing “Start” on the new fangled washing machines to start the spritzing just isn’t the same.

Mechanical controls are also much more reliable. There’s no need to “reboot” the washer or dryer. The motor turns the knob, the relays click at their appropriate times and the washing machine does what it’s suppose to do.

With the refurbishment of the condos here at Saratoga Springs Resort and Spa, they’re replacing all the appliances. The new washer/dryer combination units are made by Whirlpool and they are all electronic with the cricket noises during operation.

This means the mechanical controls found on the condo dishwasher are also going away.

Interestingly, GE owns up to the manufacturing of the dishwasher, but the washer/dryer combo unit apparently isn’t worthy of the GE logo.

Nowadays the GE logo has been leased out to a company called Haier, as GE no longer makes appliances. I’m pretty sure the appliances we had in the house before we moved to Chicago were actually made by Frigidaire but branded with the GE logo. Parts could be exchanged between Frigidaire, GE, Westinghouse, and Kenmore appliances. Geeks online called them FriGEmore appliances.

I’m all for technology doing great things for us, but not for the sake of making things cheaper and the lessening of the user experience. The appliances in this condo are well over a decade old and have been used by countless different guests and families and they’re still going just fine.

We need GE to bring good things to life again.

Data Geek.

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

Since my first visit to Walt Disney World in 1997 I have been fascinated with their use of technology. When Earl and I were first here back then, I promptly noticed Disney was using a modified version of the IBM 4680 General Sales Application for their retail needs. At the time they were using IBM 4695 touchscreens in the food outlets, running software I was unfamiliar with.

If you look in older stores at WDW, you’ll notice holes in the counter that used to accommodate the customer display as pictured above.

With each visit to Walt Disney World I’ve noticed evolutionary steps in their use of technology. Point of sale systems were upgraded. The food service program I noticed at the first visit (MATRA) was then used throughout the entire property. IBM 4695s gave way to NCR touchscreen terminals. iPods started making an appearance as another point of sale device. RFID capable credit-card sized tickets were introduced. Then they were capable of unlocking our resort/hotel door. The cards gave way to Magic Bands, which can be used for tickets to the park, charges to the room, unlocking doors, identifying who you are for photo opportunities; the list goes on.

Tonight I noticed several of the Disney establishments are upgrading their point of sale terminals again. The size of an iPad, it looks like they’re still running MATRA but they take up half the space of the preceding terminal. The customer information display is bigger and brighter.

When we check into a FastPass+ attraction, the cast member monitoring entrance activities has the opportunity to say, “Hello, John!”, as my name appears on their screen.

Technology is awesome when it’s used responsibly and enhances our real life experiences. Having a Disney Cast Member take our photo and have it appear in our Disney Parks Photo Stream on our phone 10 minutes later is awesome.

Technology has come a long way since Walt Disney World opened in 1971, apparently using Sweda Model 46 cash registers, as evidenced by this receipt I found online.

Interaction.

I brought my iPad Pro along on my little walk and blogging adventure today because it’s light and easy to transport. I enjoy my iPad Pro very much and I enjoy using it.

But I don’t believe it’s ever going to be a laptop replacement.

Even with iPadOS and all the desktop-like functionality Apple has baked into the iPad experience, as power user it still feels a little too “locked in” to a specified experience. Even though Safari is now suppose to provide a desktop-like experience, there are still some sites that don’t work properly, and overall it doesn’t feel quite there. It’s closer. It’s much closer, and I would be comfortable taking my iPad Pro as my primary computer on vacation. I can do everything the casual user needs to do with their computer. All social media is there, web browsing is 98% there, email is accessible. I can edit documents and organize and share photos and do all that.

But it still feels restricted.

I liken the feeling to when Microsoft started embracing the Internet and bolted networking on top of the existing Windows experience. It felt slightly messy and a little bit like someone was trying to shove an oval shape into a round hole. Not quite there but close. The iPad Pro experience still feels that way to me.

As I said, it’s much better than it was, but it’s not quite there for a tech geek like me.

Maybe Steve Jobs had it right with the whole “consumption device” approach back when it was announced. On the other hand, my I’m not the target audience. I know my Mom seems delighted with her iPad. Her Facebook activity indicates she’s having a good time with it.

Perhaps that’s all that’s important.

Ad.

I’m a little surprised Facebook feels the need to advertise. I mean, who in Chicago doesn’t know what Facebook is? Obviously this is a PR campaign to negate negative press.

Catalina.

I’ve upgraded my mid-2015 15-inch MacBook Pro to Mac OS Catalina. The operating system has not been officially released (though there were some rumors it would be released on the 4th), but the Gold Master is available on the beta channel and that’s good enough for me.

I took this opportunity to turn FileVault back on. FileVault encrypts the contents of my hard drive. If this computer was ever stolen, no one could easily read the contents of my hard drive. Since I’ve experienced having my computer stolen before, I tend to err on the paranoid side when it comes to data security. I’m a big fan of encryption.

I’d share screen shots of Catalina but I’m typing this entry on my iPad Pro because the encryption of my hard drive has gone on for several hours with several hours still remaining in the process.

I haven’t noticed any jarring changes in the interface to throw typical users off their game. There are some major changes going on under the hood, for example, Mac OS Catalina will not run 32-bit applications. The only 32-bit application I had remaining on my hard drive was a Quicktime Plug-in for Final Cut Pro X, and I don’t really use that plug-in so I went ahead and did the upgrade.

I had read concerns from beta testers around the number of security prompts thrown out by Catalina, but I haven’t experience anything like that yet, but as mentioned, I haven’t really dug deep into the new OS.

One thing I have noticed is my battery drains pretty quickly. I need to give the OS about a week before I determine as to whether that’s something going on with the OS itself or it’s the fallout of Mac OS doing a bunch of cleanup related to the upgrade in the background.

Like its predecessors, Mac OS Catalina looks gorgeous, even on my 4 1/2 year old machine. I look forward to sharing further findings from my exploration adventures with the new OS.

Once my hard drive finishes encrypting.

Power.

I’ve always been fascinated by power lines. It’s connected to my geeky interest of all things connected.

These lines march across Indiana a little bit north of Indianapolis. We traveled in all 50 states but I don’t think I’ve ever seen towers of this design before.

There’s a lot of power up there.

Mobility.

Photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash

I have a lot of respect for this guy. I don’t know who he is, I don’t know what he’s working on, nor do I know where he is working. I do know that he’s using a Mac in a public space in a seemingly good spot to get some work done. I find that awesome.

I’ve always had dreams of being a Digital Nomad. I love the idea of working remotely and I’m quite fortunate to be a company-sanctioned telecommuter, but I have a habit of setting up shop in my home office and doing all my work from there, rather than taking advantage of the digital tools available to me and working where I need to.

I do find I get more things done when I change up the scenery a bit. I like the white noise of a coffee shop while I’m working. I can’t have headphones in; I’m more of the type to have music playing in the background, which adds to the general ambiance of a room. I have specific needs to not throw off my concentration, and I occasionally have a hard time finding that at home. Getting out of the office more often would definitely help my concentration.

A couple of years ago work gave me a Windows 10 Dell Laptop, saying I had to make the switch due to security concerns on the network. Frankly I never turned in the company assigned Mac equipment I was given when I joined the company back in 2015, so I still use it from time to time. The Retina display, and the entire experience for that matter, far outshines the Windows 10 experience I have on my Dell laptop. I don’t know how anyone, in this day and age, can think a display resolution of 1366×768 can lend itself to any sort of productive endeavor, especially since Microsoft tries to cram everything and the kitchen sink into ribbons and buttons and advertising in their latest incarnations of Office products.

I’m going to have to read up on the Bring-Your-Own-Device policy at work to see if I can get back to a company-sanctioned Mac platform again. I already structure my day so I have meetings in the morning and development time in the afternoon. If I can maintain these two constants, I might be working from a local coffee shop sooner than later.

Then I can really get some stuff done.